It drives me crazy to not only read the wrong word being used but to hear the wrong word being used. I know, it’s a small thing and I shouldn’t let it bother me, yet it does. The English language provides a multitudes of words to use in just about any situation imaginable, so for me it is hard to imagine using the wrong word, when there is a correct word for the taking. I have gathered a collection of the most frequent offenders, see if you find any that you, are perhaps guilty of…
Further/Farther— Further your mind, Farther is distance
That/Which — Oh this one is a bugger. There is a fairly easy way to remember the difference between that and which: If removing the words that follow would change the meaning of the sentence, use “that.” Otherwise, “which” is fine. There are some people who will say that the rules are more complex and flexible than this, but let’s keep it simple and say you use that before a restrictive clause and which before everything else.
Me and I – when to use me and when to use I. Full disclosure – I do occasional slip up on this one. But here is the test: 1. Harry and I went to the movies. Test: I went to the movies. (Correct!) 2. Jake invited Brian and I over for drinks. Test: Jake invited I over for drinks. (Incorrect!)
Imply/Infer — the speaker implies, the listener infers
Then/Than — then relates to time, than is a comparison — then the clock struck one, Bill is taller than Sue
Unique/Unusual — many things are unusual, few are unique (only one of its kind)
Less/Fewer — if it’s countable (boys, girls, cats, dogs), use fewer; if it is not countable, use less – fewer eggs, less butter
Between/Among — use between for two people, places or things; use among for three or more
Well, these are just a sample of the misused words that set my teeth on edge, perhaps I will share some of the phrases that are misused and overused one day. Until then, I am off to Chicago, to further my business farther from N.C.!